Creating jobs requires land for businesses to operate and workers to perform their tasks. Virtual working from home during a pandemic aside, most jobs require employees to be in an office, a manufacturing plant, a school or healthcare facility, for instance. And in order to host those jobs, businesses and other enterprises need land on which to build their hospital, manufacturing facility or office.
That’s why land use planners designate certain parts of the city of Portland for industrial use or healthcare facilities and even office work. Examples of this include areas along the Willamette River and Columbia Slough, which are zoned industrial, the Central City as the regional office center, and smaller clusters around the city for institutional jobs in healthcare and higher education.
Designating these areas for jobs allows land use planners, business leaders, developers and community members to plan for future job growth so, as population and businesses increase, land supply can meet the demand.
But how do you know how much land to zone for what purpose? And how does a city invest in other factors of job and employment growth (e.g., available infrastructure and education) in order to meet the demands of a growing population and economy?
Planning for job growth
The Bureau of Planning and Sustainability is in the process of once-in-a-decade reporting of job and development forecasts for the city. Called the Economic Opportunities Analysis (EOA), its purpose is to analyze and forecast growth in Portland’s business districts, then designate an adequate 20-year supply of developable land for businesses and jobs.
This new EOA update will factor in the City’s goals of job growth, environmental health and equitable access to resources to:
- Address the shrinking supply of industrial land.
- Promote inclusive prosperity and reduce BIPOC income disparities.
- Reconcile other important land use decisions involving natural resource protections.
- Update plans based on business cycle trends and growth forecasts.
Market Trends Analysis
But first, we have to determine where the market for jobs is going. That is the goal of the newly released Trends Report, which details recent economic growth trends, Portland’s local specializations, competitiveness and prosperity, as well as marine industrial forecasts, trends and land needs.
This report concludes that:
- Portland and the region are generating robust and diverse economic growth. There is a balanced mix of jobs among office, industrial, institutional, and consumer-service sectors, each generating roughly a quarter of total jobs.
- Job growth has been unequal: mostly high-wage jobs (56%) and low-wage jobs (37%); while the share of middle-wage jobs is shrinking (58% in 2000 to 48% in 2018).
- Middle-wage jobs raise incomes of people with little or no college education. These are mostly industrial and office support jobs that pay between $34,000-$58,000 at the median.
- BIPOC workers have higher incomes in the industrial and office sectors.
- Most middle-wage jobs (61%) held by workers without bachelor’s degrees are in the industrial sectors.
- Industrial land supply is tight and getting tighter.
What this all means is yet to be determined. Following the Trends Report and public comment on it, BPS staff will conduct a land supply and demand analysis. The market trends and supply/demand analysis will inform the third step: developing alternative scenarios for job growth capacity and integrated approaches to support economic prosperity and equity, environmental health, and other City policies.